Alan Harvey Papert
June 2, 1930 – September 19, 2020
Alan Harvey Papert passed away on September 19, 2020, at the age of 90. He was predeceased by his brother Seymour and is survived by his wife of 64 years Gloria (Moss) Papert, his sister Joan Papert, his three children: Suzanne (Papert) Hinman and husband Ted, Richard Papert and wife Rhonda, and Charles Papert. He was a beloved and tireless story reader to his six grandchildren: Stefanie (Hinman) Meyers, Ben and Kati Hinman, Daniel, Sam and Nicole Papert and two great-grandchildren, Thomas and Zachary Meyers.
Alan was born in Pretoria, South Africa to Betty and Jack Papert. After studying engineering at the University of Witwatersrand, he worked for a few years as a consulting engineer before moving to Manchester, England where he worked for Metrovicks, a company known for building the first commercial transistor computer. Alan intended to travel extensively, with England as his first stop, until he met Gloria and subsequently married her within a few months. They made their first home in Manchester and eventually moved to London with their three children.
In 1972, the family emigrated to America where Alan’s brother, Seymour, had created Logo, the first computer language for children. Alan and Seymour together started their business, General Turtle, developing a seminal computer system for children’s education. Logo and the turtle became notable milestones in the fields of computer science, education and artificial intelligence (AI), and their legacy lives on to this day. Unfortunately, in the 1970s, the company was before its time from a commercial perspective, and Alan moved on to other work. This included helping create one of the first word processors for the legal profession at LCS, a desktop aircraft simulator at Pacer Systems, and the control boards for MRI scanners and other medical devices at Analogic Corporation.
Alan’s love of math, engineering and his intellectual curiosity continued throughout his life. He always looked for a solution to any problem, from how to incorporate philosophy into an elementary school classroom to raising awareness of Pemphigus, the rare autoimmune disease from which he suffered for many years. One of the very last puzzles he solved was to identify the cause of the malfunctioning alarm on his hospital bed.
Alan and Gloria spent 20 years as active members of the community in Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 2018, they moved to Brooksby Village in Peabody, Massachusetts. Alan was extremely well read with a deep and broad base of knowledge, and was especially interested in world politics and current events. Alan’s passion for educational equality and inclusivity stemmed from his upbringing in South Africa. He was a strong supporter of Small Solutions, an organization whose goal was for every child to have a laptop and equal access to education. At Brooksby he was part of the Diversity Committee. He was also known as the Projector Man, being relied on to operate the AV equipment for the weekly movie night. Alan was well known for his quiet intelligence, thoughtful manner, kind and gentle nature, and his trademark red suspenders.
The family would like to thank the staff of Beverly Hospital and of Brooksby Village for all their care. In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to the International Pemphigus and Pemphigoid Foundation at http://www.pemphigus.org
Alan Harvey Papert
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Steven and Jean Berger
September 28, 2020
Our heartfelt sympathy to Gloria and family. We were so sad to hear of Alan's death. Sounds like he lived life to the fullest and we know he will be missed.
Jean and Steven Berger
September 26, 2020
Alan, A gentle soul, who cared for children and into his final years still found time to spend with children. He believed in the natural curiosity and intelligence of children, and the many ways a problem can be solved. My favorite photo is of him sitting with a very young boy, in his slow patient way asking questions to assist the child in finding his own solutions to the problem before them. He helped us introducing Scratch to Kenyan youth, and supported the activities of Small Solutions Big Ideas. His perspective on learning was key to our mission at schools where lecture and memorization was the basis of the Kenyan teaching style. We will never lose sight of Alan's vision for children.